Noes Goes

Text: A “catch” (a traditional trick or prank) – “Noes Goes”

Informant: NK

Ethnicity: Indian

Primary Language: English

Age: 21

Residence: New York

Context: According to the informant, “Nose Goes” is a common trick where people touch a finger to their nose in a group setting until everyone catches on and does it. The last one to realize has to do the rest of the group a favor. As such, the trick is generally used to determine who is doing a task that no one in the group wants to do (such as taking out the trash, or who’s making dinner). 


As a prank, “Nose Goes” is an example of decision-making folklore within social groups. It can be difficult to make decisions in group settings because of differences in opinion. Nose Goes provides a fair method to determine who will take responsibility for the undesirable task. Nose Goes is also a trick I have seen used from people of many different backgrounds, including those from different coasts and countries. The widespread adoption amongst younger generations suggests shared cultural acceptance of the prank; it is our version of “drawing the short end of the stick/straw.” This phenomena has clearly been going on for thousands of years, and I think that it is a reflection of groups aiming to keep their social hierarchies intact, minimizing conflict through a playful luck of the draw.